As youths we are pawns in the political field. We form 60% of the voting electorate yet we are hardly represented in parliament and government. There has been so much advocacy for women representation in government, i.e. in parliament and cabinet and the political parties have heeded this call with increased number of women in government, with Vice President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Khupe being the leading examples. What the politicians have failed is to increase the number of youths in government and this is one of the biggest challenges we are facing because without one of our own in government, our views can never really be represented.
Political parties take advantage of the challenges facing the youths, chiefly that of unemployment and use it against us. A perfect example is that of Chipangano in Mbare. Luring the youths with incentives such as a low allowance, most youths facing financial problems will do anything even for a tiny allowance. The ZANU PF sponsored Chipangano in Mbare has coerced and forced the youths to join them in their violent paths as they are left with no choice. They are promised cash allowances and most of them use it to buy drugs and toxic spirits such ZED as a way of boosting their confidence when terrorizing civilians in Mbare and surrounding areas in Harare.
The problem is that the youths are being forced to play the role of the pawn, play the dirty work whilst the politicians are in their offices. As pawns we are forced to protect the “king” by all means even if it means resorting to all the unorthodox methods. Zimbabwe is by far a peaceful country but some of these youth leaders become overzealous thinking that violence will bring forth with it success. The youths in Mbare have been playing the part of the pawn for a while yet their “king” keeps on finding better opponents. Cde Savandhu should know better having seen his fortunes dwindle because his pawns have not done a good job of protecting their king.
As leaders these politicians should know better and start from the front and condemn violence and should further set the example. When the Human Rights Bill was being deliberated in Parliament, the president was at the forefront of condemning violence yet outside the building overzealous Chipangano were busy terrorizing people outside parliament building. As if that was not enough ZANU PF youths attacked and clashed with MDC-T youths at a rally for the MDC-T in Chitungwiza with senior ZANU PF officials being fingered in the plans to cause chaos. What is surprising is that whilst the GPA leaders might go on TV denouncing violence, the problems that need to be addressed are there within their parties because as leaders they are largely expected to say certain things but the problems are there within their own parties through their youth leaders.
We can thus never really move forward for as long as these youth leaders and senior party officials continue to promote their cause through violence. It is not even helping when some in ZANU PF say that they will continue to support Chipangano yet perennial Mbare constituency candidate Cde Tendai Savanhu continues to deny the existence of this youth militant group. What this does is that it does not help the cause of preventing violence because the youths will continue to be used as scapegoats to play the role of the pawn, as the face of violence for them. With threats to their families as well as their well being, youths are left with no option but to go on with whatever they are told to do.
ZANU PF has thus taken the role of coercion and force to a whole new level. Youths are forced to go knock door to door into people’s houses forcing them to come to ZANU PF rallies and functions. ZANU PF wants to create an image to everyone that they are a well oiled machine giving back to the people yet this is to the contrary. In the recent ant-Sanctions petition, they knew they would not get the numbers they wanted for their project. Youths terrorized people in town forcing them to close their shops and stop whatever they were doing so as to attend the signing on ceremony at ZANU PF headquarters. People were driven in trucks from their villages to come and sign the petitions without even their consent all for the sake of maintaining a fake image. That is not what the people want and that is by far not the role the youths want to play when we say we need a political role.
Why take advantage of the youths? We are by far the most important group in the population, the most important group of the electorate. What politicians forget is that a youth movement may as well play a determinant role when it comes to elections. Our interests are hardly being addressed yet we are the pawns in the game. We are the ones that necessitate their political paths yet our political interests are not being addressed. We need leaders that understand that the views of the youths have to be attended to. The truth is that we cannot continue playing the role of the pawn forever. There would be a time when some of us will make the journey across the board from being a mere king to a “queen”, a “bishop” and even starting the game as the king. Politicians have to understand that as kings they cannot go anywhere without their pawns and they need a strategy. They need to understand that they cannot play chess with draft tactics, they will not win because their pawn will be crashed in no time. What they need is a strategy, a formula where they make everyone happy and not use us as tools for their dirty work. They are the ones who more or less got the country into the situation that it is in and thus there is need for them to pull it out and as youths we need to play our part for our country because the day of being nothing but a mere pawn has to end.
David T. Hwangwa writing in his own personal capacity. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org